Luke Cage was a pretty fun romp through one of Marvel’s first black superheroes. The Hero For Hire took to the Netflix version of the marvel cinematic universe smoothly. Many pieces have been written about the cultural nods and asides in the series, but one big part of the black cultural experience stood out. It came in the interaction of Cottonmouth(Mahershala Ali) and Black Mariah(Alfre Woodard).
Cottonmouth was one of the most dynamic characters on the show. Not only did we get to see his transformation from innocent impressionable youth to a murderous villainous adult, but we were also given great insights into what exactly kept him going. His fears, his hopes, and dreams were all laid bare for us in a way that many shows are not able or willing to do with their villains.
As a child Cottonmouth was a virtuoso at piano. His grandmother, Mabel, a drug kingpin, didn’t care in the least about his talents, she was busy grooming him to take over her dynasty. His Uncle Pete(Curtiss Cook) however, cared very much, he’d sneak him to piano auditions and tried to steer him away from “the business” and towards the arts. Making him Cottonmouth’s hero. But while he was busy being a hero to a little black boy, he was a brutal villain to a little black girl.
Back in the real world, our week has been utterly insane. Between Kanye “officially, officially” losing his shit, Nas being outed as an abuser, and Cosby FINALLY being found guilty…a reckoning is coming for black folk and our male heroes. Over the years, the story has become an old one. Famous man beats a woman on Monday, rapes a woman on Tuesday, puts out an album on Wednesday. The artistic capabilities of the man outweigh the life of the woman. This part of it has no race, indeed the white perpetrators of this, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, the list goes on and on. The difference is, with black folks, the people doing this sit in hallowed ground. The first major black television star is probably going to die in jail for his actions. R.Kelly, A man who’s writing is so prolific he most likely crafted the entire sound of R&B in the 90s is probably next. Nas is often listed on the top 3 rappers of all-time list. Though in retrospect his songs reeked of respectablity politics, “I Can” inspired a generation of black kids to strive for something more. But that does not outweigh anything he could e
I remember sitting in a film course and the (white) professor was showing us Triumph of Will and was telling us that we must separate artistry from what was done with the art and I spent the remainder of the class telling him why that was utter bullshit, and black folks know it’s bullshit so we need to apply it everywhere.
It’s extremely easy for people not caught in the crosshairs of powerful people to say “not my problem boy this song is bumpin’.” But the history of black men and black women is that black men were first unable to protect them, and then unwilling to. We have the means now to unlearn things but we are more dedicated to our egos than our women. We want our heroes to remain pristine, even though ignoring their misdeeds and atrocities allows and breeds more men just as violent.
But here is where we have to make the distinction in the narrative seen over and over. We cannot claim that all these atrocities white people have done are horrendous and disgusting, and turn around and forgive/ignore our own people doing the same thing. If you really care about it, start demanding these people pay as well, not “oh well they got off so let Cosby off” Fuck that. We cannot aspire to be white. The one rule of whiteness is that we’re never going to get in, so stop trying to become white men. Maybe if we respect the trauma we’ve put our women through over the years, we’ll get some new heroes that ain’t shitty, that will actually get us where we want to go. Don’t be a Cottonmouth. Cuz putting black false heroes over black women ends with a metal rod beatdown.
Warning this review has harsh language and spoilers. Sorry it took so long, I’ve been extremely busy. Nonetheless I hope it’s enlightening.
I was lucky enough to be able to see this movie before its official release date. A movie that tackles the tough issue of race I went in high on expectations given to me from people who, honestly I don’t usually hear talk about these issues.
That should have been my first warning.
But lets start with the good.
An all-star cast turns in a stellar performance. Amandla Stenberg is amazing as Starr Carter. She brings so much nuance to the role. Every new obstacle in her way you can see her working it out in her mind, you can see it affecting her in different ways and she pulls you into that with her. Throughout the entire movie you see her brilliance as an actor shine through despite the gross mishandling of the script’s content matter. I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to do next.
Russell Hornsby also does a stellar job as the loving and proudly militant black father. His approach channeled so many black men I know and have known throughout my own life. Men who are trying their best to operate in this society and bring up their kids the best way they know how.
Of course Regina Hall is wonderful as always. Her performance in this film as the mother navigating her child’s emotional trauma while living in a place she resents was brilliant.
The second warning was that, while the book was written by a black woman, a white woman wrote the screenplay. I’m a firm believer of people telling their own stories, ESPECIALLY when it’s a story that revolves entirely around their identity or the oppression becoming of that identity. When others, especially those of the oppressing class get behind the reigns, they often (read: Always) get things wrong even in simple translation.
This film made me tired. Rather it made me realize just how tired I am of all these tropes.
I’m tired of the well-meaning white boy who doesn’t “Get it.”(wrinkle in time, dear white people the movie AND the series) Who’s colorblind, racist and or abusive foolishness is always satiated with a kiss and promise of hot and heavy affection down the line. He’s clearly their outreach to white people. “We still love you white people” this trope coos to them. “We still love you while you kill us, we just want you to do better that’s all” it sighs while lovingly stroking their hair. He’s there to coddle the white producers and give a boost to the egos of those funding the project, to make them feel like “hey that’s me” instead of them being the racist cop(spoiler alert they are usually the racist cop).
I’m tired of watching black people shot to death in real life and on film. It feels like trauma porn. Why did we have to see that so vividly? And if it(this movie) wasn’t for black people, why the focus on crime in the community?(more on that later)
I’m tired of the light-skinned caught between two worlds girl. I want to hear from the people who were ACTUALLY around Khalil. I want to hear from the unambiguous black girl who lives in the hood, stays in the hood and has no escape from the trauma. How does this affect her. Indeed Kenya’s version of the story would’ve been wonderful to hear, however we only see her as the loud, ready to fight sidekick who barely talks after the incident.
But what I’m really, REALLY tired of, is white people writing black people’s stories. There was absolutely no reason to give this script to the white scriptwriter Audrey Wells. Most of the issues with pandering to whiteness and the white gaze can most likely be attributed to this gross mishandling of storytelling. The scene where the white boy (hereafter referred to as WB) says he doesn’t see color and Starr calls him out on it only for her to forgive him as he (cornily) says “I see you” was astoundingly bad and completely misses the point. Then IMMEDIATELY after this Starr tells her dad that she’s dating WB because he didn’t show her what a good black man was, but what a good man was.
But you just said…Chile, whew.
There’s so many better ways to say why you are dating someone outside your race…and you settled on that colorblind mess RIGHT AFTER you explained very well, why that’s bull? Nah fam, back to the drawing board.
Also that whole interaction with her and her dad was creepy af but that’s a whole separate post. It made my skin crawl even with the wonderful acting, that was just written terribly, can’t fix that.
The biggest problem was with the end of this film.
You mean to tell me that you have me sit there and watch a black man die, vividly, then deal with the inaction of police, then watch the cop get off while another black family is torn apart….
And then chalk it all up to black on black crime?
“it’s not the hate YOU give, it’s the hate WE give.”
See, no, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, and the raggedy ass inline skates you wobbling out of here on.
This movie gets a lot right, which is why it’s so dangerous. it’s like they listened just enough to get people to listen and then switch them to the wrong side of a clear argument. People are going to walk out of this with a justification of their bs belief that black on black crime is equal to cop vs civilian murders and without an understanding of the underlying systemic issues that cause both of these things. There was a white woman in the movie theatre with me who had long grinch fingers in her hair, what she probably calls “dreadlocks.” She was a teacher and I can only imagine how emboldened her cultural appropriating arse was walking out of there. I fear for the lessons she will teach to children of all races about this topic based on this film.
And you mean to tell me that in the same movie a cop thinks a brush is a gun, but rolls up on an actual black child with an actual gun pointing it at an actual human being and they don’t shoot? And we watch the black guy go to jail but still nothing of the cop and that’s the happy ending?
Although the performances in the film were outstanding, moving, and ultimately some of the best I’ve seen this year…this movie gets no stars. As a general rule, steer clear of black trauma porn masquerading as a movie for black folks that’s really for sell-outs and fox news pundits.
Boogeyman- a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behavior.
Red, white, and blue lights flash in two separate neighborhoods. In neighborhood one, the children continue to play, they smile and wave at the drivers cruising beneath the lights, who smile and wave back. The Andy Griffith theme song seems to blast full volume across the subdivision, whilst the lessons learned from that wise old sheriff play in parent’s heads. Knowing that these people are around to protect and serve them is a weight off of their minds. No one will hurt their children while these guys are around, they are the quintessential good guys. They are a heavenly mix of Andy Griffith, John Mcclain, and Jim Malone, always doing what’s right for the people.
When the children of neighborhood one come in from playing and ask about the lights and the men beneath them, the parents can proclaim with total honesty that they are here to help you when you’re lost you go to them, tell them your name and address and they’ll get you home. Be grateful for them, they’re our heroes in blue, always have been. You can have a full out pumpkin riot, burning cop cars and not have to worry my child. You’ll be fine.
In neighborhood two the scene isn’t quite as picturesque. The same lights flash, the same drivers peer through the window. But this time the children flee, jumping fences, leaving their toys where they lay. Parent’s heads are filled with grotesque images as old as The Good Ship Jesus and as fresh as the loose cigarettes still burning on the asphalt. One mother may recall a San Francisco cop saying it’s okay to kill black people as “It’s not against the law to put an animal down,” before pulling their child indoors. Another father may recall the hundreds and thousands of lynchings throughout the United States aided and abetted by the police. And yet another would recall the recent shooting of a little boy named Tamir Rice gunned down for playing in the park. And another still would recall a woman named Rekia Boyd, being shot and killed for no reason while the cop who did it walked off a free man. When these guys roll through, their children are in danger, their wives, husbands, and daughters are in real danger. They are to be feared, but unlike the tales of the monster under the bed others may tell, this monster is real, and can kill with no consequence.
They must tell their children to do so many things to walk away with their lives from an encounter with these men in blue. Don’t sag your pants, don’t raise your voice, don’t move quickly, don’t wear that shirt, effectively micro policing an entire group of people. And even then, they may still be shot and killed. And what happens when Blacks know their rights and react with intelligence, rightful anger at an officer’s blatant disrespect for their constitutional rights, and refuse to comply with illegal demands? Well…Sandra Bland.
These differences are why white people always ask “well why did he/she run”, and black people always say “of course he/she ran.”
The difference between the two neighborhoods is, of course, racial, the first being white and the second black. But it’s more than “just” the skin tone. It’s the history that has been caused by the vilification and criminalization of that extra pigmentation in their skin. Because this country and its infrastructure were built with the idea that black people weren’t human, and darker-skinned people were the enemy, the intuitions meant to protect and serve only do that for a certain few while targeting and attacking all the rest.
Social conflict theory states basically that the more powerful groups use their power to exploit the groups with less power. We can see this currently with the immense wage gap between those of the 1 percent of 1 percent and the rest of the country. In the beginning though, the power structure was a caste system set by not only wealth, but skin color.
Imagine a society set up by poor people. A country founded by those who had nothing. Well laws would be different. They’d probably have something in there about sharing, about caring for someone who needs help. But a country founded by the wealthy would have more about protecting their own wealth. Nothing wrong with that, but replace that wealth with skin color, things get a bit more problematic. Add in the fact that after a huge civil war you’ll want these people to be functioning, contributing members of your society without giving them any recompense (land, money, or even trying to change public opinion) for what’s happened to them…and you’ve pretty much made it almost impossible for that to happen on a grand scale.
Due to being seen inherently as the enemy, black families must teach their children not to embrace the police but fear them. Black families don’t need a fictional boogeyman, the police fill that role impeccably.
Often times members of white liberal society who genuinely want to help ask “why so angry? Why the violent rhetoric” without understanding that the anger and rhetoric used is a symptom, merely a result of the society that creates racist policing practices. Police, politicians, doctors, writers, we are all born into a racist, patriarchal, homophobic, transphobic society.
This is the one time I’ll say this, it’s not your fault you became a racist, it’s not your fault you became a misogynist, it is not your fault you became transphobic or homophobic. It is your fault that you are STILL one. Your fight to remain firmly inside your privilege bubble is not a victimless act. It’s killing people as we speak.
The doctor that thinks twice before operating on a Trans man or woman just lost the second they needed to save a life because religion taught them that this is an abomination. The cop who barrel rolls into a group of teenagers and pulls his weapon on unarmed children because he’s been taught that black people are inherently dangerous through various media outlets. The young children who think it’s funny to beat up homeless people. They do this because of the deafening silence that gives them the go-ahead. They do this because the fight to keep the status quo makes them believe ideas about minorities that should’ve been thrown away with the dismantling of Jim Crow. But because this fight to keep everything the way it is has been going on for so long, ideas and opinions are formed with no basis in reality, which in turn literally kills people. This unwillingness to admit that something is terribly wrong with this society is what haunts the fight of each generation for justice and equality.
And therein lies the real struggle. I had a teacher that always stressed the importance of how a group of people is regularly portrayed on television. For many this seems insignificant, “it’s just TV right”? But please if I may… In many places of this country, people live in groups that are mirrors of themselves and their parents. We are still very much a segregated country. So there may be a white person who goes their whole life form birth to 18, never interacting with a black person. Never getting to know an Asian or Native American, transgendered person, or a homosexual person. So where does this person get their ideas on how these people act? Why films and television of course. Now this person sees the slanted media coverage showing black crimes over and over while not showing the reality that whites are more likely to commit dangerous crimes like rape and armed robbery. So they think, this is the real danger, THEY are the real problem, and when they go online and hear blacks talking about hard facts and statistics they say “no I’m the real victim” and then they walk into a black church full of misplaced self-righteous bullshit anger and shoot 9 people. Or they join a fraternity and chant gleefully about a “nigger not joining SAE.” (That fraternity has produced some very influential members several senators, governors, and even a President.) Or they hunt black people in Mississippi. Or they join hate groups and infiltrate police ranks. Or they become Senators, Congressmen, Police officers, and have all of these prejudices and pass laws to “control blacks”. These politicians aren’t feared like the cops are, but they are the ones that facilitate the means for the boys in blue to be monsters in the black neighborhood. They pass drug laws because drugs make Blacks think they are as good as whites. Because it’s more than blacks being portrayed as less than human, it’s about blacks being portrayed as problems. The problem is “they want our women”, see Birth of a Nation, the problem is they are taking over the country see the Charleston shooter, the problem is they aren’t capable of greatness see every whitewashed Egyptian/biblical film.
Now to the work. See the call for justice in cases of police brutality against minorities, is really a call to just say, hey you can’t do this and get away with it. This is very important to note because we haven’t even gotten to the point where people are saying stop doing it. It’s just being asked that those who do it pay for it so that maybe, others won’t do the same.
It’s about changing the culture, changing society, it’s hard and easy at the same time. All it would take are classes that are taken seriously, changes in media to reflect the diversity of character that a group of people truly can encompass. How many more people have to die before our humanity is recognized and respected? It’s been going on for too long, the stakes are high and there are solutions, but who’s listening? At this point it probably doesn’t matter, it seems Black America is demanding a change and an impasse will come, the result of it, is up to all of us who refuse to give in to the boogeyman.
Sources: FBI, Society Pages, NY times, Gawker, LA times, Youtube.
Wow, that’s all I can say at this point. Its 2013 and its really showing now, this is where it all comes to a head. See back in the heyday of the comic industry nobody wanted to make black superheroes. Now in this new age we are slapped in the face with it everyday. Oh go check out “The avengers!” go check out “The dark knight”! Go check out “Captain America”! Go check out “Green Lantern”. What do all these movies have in common? They are comic book adaptations of superheroes that are all caucasian. Now I’m not talking about the quality of these movies, I’m one of the world’s biggest batman fans, but the fact remains that African Americans do not have many superheroes and the ones that are made are made just because they need a black hero. Giving us original names such as “Black lightning”, “Black panther”, “Bronze tiger”, we get it they’re black…but unfortunately until recently not much else.
The crazy part is THERE ARE GREAT BLACK SUPERHEROES. Unfortunately most of them have only a small following because they have never been promoted. Icon and Static are two of my very favorite heroes, yet no movie of either of them yet. Icon can easily go head to head with superman and in fact did one time punching him through the Justice league watch tower. Static eventually becomes the most powerful hero in the DC universe. Both heroes are great role models. So why haven’t they been given the exposure they deserve? Why am I still hearing “black people can’t be superheroes”?
Now they want us to get excited about “Falcon” being in the new Captain america movie. Yippie…a sidekick who talks to birds, right that’s a real hero…So now that my little rant is over lets get into the facts. The facts are that Dwayne McDuffie is responsible for some of the best (and only original) Black superheroes. Milestone comics did more for African Americans in the comic book industry than any other group ever did. But if you notice after Mr. Mcduffie’s untimely death, all that he did has been slowly reversed, they no longer use John Stewart for the green lantern, many of the black superheroes that were featured prominently in The justice league are gone. Perhaps most disturbing, in the television show batman the brave and the bold which featured team ups with almost every single hero in the dc universe, he didn’t team up with any milestone characters even one time.
Marvel you’re next! Teasing the populace year after year with a black panther movie is a little much don’t you think? I thank you for the first two blade movies an awesome job but most people forget that those movies helped kick off the comics-movie wave. This lack of black superheroes has resulted in there being almost zero black action stars. it translates now to the movie industry.
Wiseguy Industries is working on this. Cain the Conqueror will be the first of many heroes for all races and its not about their race. They will be superheroes of all colors but their colors will not make them. Thank you for your time.
Kanye West is one of the most prolific rappers in modern history modern being 2010 and on. Before that I can only assume people were banging out beats on the back of dinosaurs, mastodons, or other animals and grunting.
In all seriousness though the last mainstream rapper to really address philosophical and political issues died in 1996. Since then we’ve had Mos Def, Common, Lupe Fiasco, and Andre 3000. The only one with real “crossover”, “mainstream” appeal is Andre 3000 and that was only with one of his Outkast albums. Ask anybody who wasn’t black who they were before the love below and you’d get “aren’t they the Scooby Doo guys?” Everybody else who has become millionaires off of merchandising and opportunistic business capitalization have completely sold out any chance they have at making a real statement. Jay-Z actually used to talk about things that mattered, now its all materialistic. Actually today a rapper can garner a huge following talking about the stuff they DON’T have as if they had it. At some point the record labels realized people would pay them to have their rappers put their crap in their lyrics. I was working at a liquor store and I swear Moscato stayed on the shelf until they started saying it in rap songs that they played in the club. Not just black college kids but all races all of a sudden had a taste for this sweet wine meant for desserts. Of course they never drank it in the manner it was supposed to be but alas such is life.
I have long had an issue with the direction rap took. It started off as an amazing way to express an opinion. A way for people to get the word out about what was really going on. Public Enemy, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, and I must included The last poets in there as well though they were more than rappers.These rappers realized the type of platform this gave them and utilized it in a way that made people think. I’m not saying club music doesn’t have its place but why is EVERYTHING that comes out meant to objectify women or get you to buy something?
I’ve been upset with it for awhile now but what could I do? I can’t rap, all I can do is write a few thousand words on a blog and join the rest of the league of upset guys on the internet who complain. That’s why when Kanye west debuted his two new songs New slave and Black Skinhead my ears perked up. He debuted New slaves on random walls throughout the world. The next day he performed New slaves and debuted Black Skinhead on SNL. These are two hard hitting songs from his new album.
Immediately I could pick up major influences in the style he chose to get his message across. The musical influences being one that has influenced him in the past, Common. Also The last poets were clearly a major influence.
His blasting of even himself when it comes to materialism and exposure of the crooked system that puts a disproportionate amount of blacks and minorities behind bars is just what people need. He took a stand on SNL where they COULD NOT ignore him. Honestly its people who probably didn’t get it, there are people who think what he did is wrong, that he’s trying to quit, give up.
Kanye West is just get started, if you’d been paying attention you’d have been waiting for this moment. When he’d stop making stuff just to seal up his position, one thing about him if you do your research, Kanye has always been Kanye. Even before he was famous he jumped on tables screaming he was the next Michael Jackson. He’s a little crazy yes but in order to do what you love doing and be great at it, you’ve gotta be crazy.
“I know that we the new slaves… Meanwhile the DEA, teamed up with the CCA They tryina lock n—s up, they tryna make new slaves See that’s the privately owned prison, get your piece today They prolly all in the Hamptons, braggin ’bout what they made”
With new slaves he aired out the DEA and the CCA which operate over the privately owned prisons. At the same time he spoke on how the actual conspiracy theories that people like to follow and quote about NWO and Illuminati are bull and nothing more than distractions from the real problems. The laws that effectively act as new Jim Crow laws, putting more African-Americans behind bars now than were in slavery in 1850. The private prison owners and boards are raking in profits at rates never before seen while the leaders in the minority communities fight to keep their children from going behind bars. The truth is though, everything right now is set perfectly for this to happen. They (prison owners) don’t want immigrants and minorities out of jail. In recent SEC filings, CCA admitted that drug law reform and reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes are “risk factors” for them that could hurt their bottom line. Corporations never play about their “bottom line.” Unfortunately for all of America, their bottom line means the destruction of our youth, many missed opportunities. Just one glimpse inside a prison and you will see several extremely intelligent people who perhaps because of this intelligence found themselves looking for ways of expression that may have led them to hang around the wrong people. Maybe they didn’t even do anything, (people are being released after going back through cases and being proven innocent at a growing rate)who knows, the point is when you are living in a system designed to make you fail its going to be hard. Especially when that same system also makes darn sure that you think its completely your fault that you failed. Any mention of unfairness and its “no you have the same chance as everyone else, quit whining and get your act together.” Really? Because when you’re saturated with media telling you to hate yourself because you’re dumb and evil, self worth and will power kind of wanes. Here’s an experiment that’s been done probably a few times every decade with African-Americans, with the same results.
“Y’all throwing contracts at me You know that n**** can’t read”
The irony and sarcasm in this one line alone from “New Slaves” makes it one of my favorite. In it he is showing how quickly he would turn down a chance to sell out in order to put forth better music and a better image. Anything that can be put into the media to counteract this mess you saw in that last video is a positive thank you Kanye for at least putting forth a strong black image in your music.
Black Skinhead is more geared towards the perception of blacks when they are proud of their race and doing well as well as when they are acting wild. It is also very good and insightful. He’s not afraid to put his own life on the chopping block and this allows for him to put everyone’s mess on display.
I’ve always listened to his music but I’ve never been excited to see a new album drop like I am for this one. He’s got the world listening right now, he’s dropped two amazing singles already, what is he going to do now? More importantly what are we as minorities going to do now?
Thanks for reading, Viva la revolution’ Entertainment Industry!
This was a speech given August 15 1970 by Huey Newton co-founder of the Black Panther Party..here he addresses the issue of Gay Rights… Its serious food for thought coming in the aftermath of President Obama endorsing Same-sex Message…
During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some
uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.
Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about
homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals
and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed
groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.
I say ” whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know,
sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the
mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in
Whenever I meet someone who knows nothing about me, they eventually get around to asking me the same question: “Why dreads?” I usually don’t give my real answer because it takes too long and people end up just staring at me like I’m crazy. Well this is my blog so I’m allowed to seem a little crazy so here’s the real answer and it ain’t “so I can shake ’em”. There are three things that my hair stands for, one is my origins as an african male, the second is my Deist(will explain) belief in God and respect for other cultures, and the third is my deep respect for love.
Part 1 African Origins-
The Dreadlock hairstyle is one of the oldest hairstyles in existence. The first evidence of Dreadlocks originates from Africa, Egypt to be precise. Egyptians have drawings depicting people with Dreadlocks, and there have even been mummies exhumed that show evidence of this hairstyle. Different tribes in Africa have utilized this hairstyle for different reason. For example the Maasi tribe’s warriors are famous for their long red dyed Locs. Other tribes in west africa view it as a very spiritual hairstyle as it is worn by their priests. The Mau Mau, a largely ethnic Kikuyu rebel group in Kenya fighting to overthrow their colonial British oppressors from 1952–1960, hid for many years in the forests, during which time their hair grew into long locks. The images of their rebellion, then broadcast around the world, are said to have inspired Jamaican Rastafari to wear locks. When I look at my locks I see the proud history of my people fighting oppression. This is not political, it is historical. I have never thought having a love for your own history was political.
Part 2- Religious beliefs and culture.
In Jamaica the wearers of this hairstyle were said to live a “dread” life or a life in which he feared God, which gave birth to the modern name ‘dreadlocks’ for this ancient style. A deist is primarily someone who believes in a higher power but does not fully believe in a direct link. For example I am a Christian but I do not believe God will fix your problems. To be simple I believe that he enacted Karma and left us to ourselves. It would explain the sharp drop in Prophets and people talking to God but that’s another blog for another day. I pay close attention to the term that Rastafarians use in this instance (though I am not a member of this religion). I respect all the different cultures in the world and i believe that inspiration can be drawn from all of them. My hair reflects this love of cultures far and near. To fear God has always been in my mind, like the old Machiavelli question “should a leader be loved or feared.” Yet I am told to do both when it comes to God. How could one love that which he fears? Its simple when you learn to that to fear simply means respect the power. The man can flood the world whenever he wants so give him the respect he deserves. My Dreadlocks reflect this respect and constantly remind me to check myself and make sure I’m going down the right path.
When I was deciding on whether or not to get this hairstyle, I did a lot of research that encompassed many different decades, people, and cultures. Doing this research I found a lot of stories about historical figures that had Locs. One that still stands out to me in my mind was the indian story of Shiva and Kali. Kali would go into battle and once blood was spilt she could not stop killing. The only person who could calm her down was Shiva, her husband. Shiva is always depicted with a mass of dreadlocks on his head and the followers of Shiva wear their hair the same. During one particular battle, Kali would not come out of her battle dance. People were dying left and right needlessly. Shiva came down, putting himself in harm’s way, and covered Kali with his dreads and calmed her down because when she saw that she was putting the one she loved in danger she was able to snap out of it. TO me this represents the truest form of love breaking through barriers. Anybody who has ever been in a fight can attest to the fact that the rest of the world gets tuned out. For a God trapped in a blood lust dance it must have been worse than that. Love broke clean through that barrier and every time I look at my Locs I see the love for not only another person but the love for the world that would allow a man to sacrifice himself to help the one he loves and the people of this world. Love is the most powerful force in the world that I have ever seen. Love makes a man jump from the subway platform onto the train tracks to save a strangers life, love makes a Sister give up a kidney for her brother, love makes that military man or woman put on that uniform and go into that fire fight. Dreadlocks to me represent this love as Shiva had for Kali.
Finally My only gripe with the hairstyle isn’t even with the hairstyle, it is in the publics view OF the hairstyle. When I go out for a job I can tell they look at me differently than when I had a short cut. Unfairly a stereotype has been thrust onto one of the oldest hairstyles in existence. Granted not everyone is thinking all of these things when they choose this hairstyle. Some do indeed only want the ability to shake their heads and let their hair cascade to their favorite song in the club. However I believe that in 2012 we need to move forward out of trying to put everything in a box. Why have we not yet learned that some things can not be defined? Scientists don’t even have a precise reason as to why we sleep, yet we try to say all people have this hairstyle for the same reason. Why is it that a historically black college bans their students from having the hairstyle that is native to their people? I am completely unwilling to accept societies ignorance even when it is thrust upon me by my own people.
This Hairstyle to me represents many things, but in the end it is the perfect representation of what drives me. My determination, creativity, my dreams, this is why I am still here. Sitting on my computer messing with my hair, typing, creating characters and seeing these amazing worlds I create in my head. That’s where I find happiness. My hair makes me happy, does yours?
The morning after…I can turn on my television and once again feel safe that I will not be assaulted by political ads. One side is quiet whilst the other side celebrates…it is a simpler time, a time when all who campaigned either on the side of democrat, republican, independent, or even “based god Lil’ b” must step back and quietly assess the full desires of the American people.
Fresh in our minds is the race, the Democrats were worried, the Republicans were confident. Last minute campaign stops in Ohio, New Hampshire, and Florida. A tightly contested race was reported by nearly every media outlet. So what happened? How did President Obama garner almost every single swing state?Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado, he even won Massachusetts the state that Mitt Romney was governor of, how could this happen? It’s simple, this is the rebirth of the melting pot.
Nowhere else in the world is the diversity as much as it is in the U.S.A. People come from all over the world for their chance. Finally this is actually reflected in the polls and the Democrats have been intelligent enough not only to recognize this, but to capitalize on this as well. While the republicans have been ignoring the blatant truth, that times are changing, the Democrats have embraced this. It is no longer ok to only have the white male vote. The growth of the minorities in America has been explosive over the past ten years. Overall, racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 91.7% of the nation’s population growth over the past 10 years. Hispanics were responsible for 56% of the nation’s population growth over the past decade. There are now 50.5 million Latinos living in the U.S. according to the 2010 Census, up from 35.3 million in 2000, making Latinos the nation’s largest minority group and 16.3% of the total population. There are 196.8 million whites in the U.S. (accounting for 63.7% of the total population), 37.7 million blacks (12.2%) and 14.5 million Asians (4.7%). Six million non-Hispanics, or 1.9% of the U.S. population, checked more than one race.-Pew Research Center. Democrats tapped into this growth running a campaign that hit small cities with large minorities, grabbing 80 percent of the black vote and around 70 percent of the latino vote. He sowed up the gay and lesbian vote by becoming the first sitting president ever to support gay marriage and repealing don’t ask don’t tell. This man is not afraid to be controversial. He clearly understands that to be great you must stand and deliver, and the country respects him for that.
To the republican party…the numbers do not lie. No longer is it acceptable to be so stoic and stand-offish. Campaigns explicitly targeting the opposition simply will not work anymore. Americans want to know what YOU can do for this country. America has changed, gone is the time where you can limit yourself to one race, you must appeal over all boarders. Limiting rights based on color and sexual orientation is unacceptable in today’s America and it is time the Republican party acknowledges this unless they want the run for president to be exclusively a show in democratic dominance.
Long have I been told that America is the land of the free, where if you study, are dedicated, and work hard you can accomplish anything, but I’ve always been a bit cynical about that. I always looked at it as the character “Pimp” famously stated in ‘Man-child in the Promised land.’
“When the white woman brings a male child into the world, she can look at him, smile, and say ‘son, someday, you may be President.’ Sonny, they tell me that he’s got one chance in eighty million that he’ll be president. But even if he misses it, sonny, there’s a good chance that he won’t be too far from President. When a [Black] woman brings a male child in the world, she looks at him, shakes her head, and says ‘oh, my son, forgive me for what I’ve done.'”
This quote defined how I felt as a Black male in America. It molded my very view on the American system. Why is it that the families on top were always white? Why is it that every position of power were held by Caucasians while people who looked like me were nowhere to be found? From his first term President Barack Obama was the embodiment of hope. I began to believe in America with his election long before the Romney campaign perverted the phrase(more on that later). By saying that I mean I believed in the people, I believed for once after all the times I’d been followed in the store, pulled over by the police for no reason, lost out on jobs…I believed that the color of my skin was not a impediment.
That being said the American people made the correct choice. Past the issue of race, heritage, and surface politics. Tuesday they went out and voted for the man who has shown that he can make a difference and had a platform to run on that included more about his positive record than negatively attacking his opponent.
Never before have I been so proud to be an American. We have been able to look past the surface and delve into the issues. I feel this election will be the start of a brand new day.